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The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School


The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School


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Pigmice Season Report

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Members of the Pigmice robotics team pose after a competition this year.

“Oink Oink Squeak Squeak” is the call of the Cleveland Robotics team, The Pigmice. Just before spring break, the Pigmice competed in their last competition of the 2024 season, finishing strong with a satisfactory ranking and two awards. 


Pigmice is a student-led FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team composed of about 40 passionate students and five volunteer mentors. They split into different departments that each contribute to the team in various ways. The competition is a program for all high school students that combines the “excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology,” according to the organization FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). 


At the beginning of the competition season, typically early January, a challenging game is revealed to all teams around the globe that requires them to design and build an industrial-sized robot to perform certain tasks in the game. Under strict rules, limited time, and limited resources, students are encouraged to present teamwork and STEM skills to compete against other teams. 


This year’s season theme is Crescendo, a music term for increasing volume to recognize the Art in STEAM. The goal in this year’s game is to build a robot capable of taking one-foot wide foam rings called Notes from all over the game field, shooting them into designated positions, and ending each match suspended on a chain about 2.3 feet above the ground. 


This year, Pigmice’s robot used a swerve drivetrain, which consists of a wheel at each corner that are all independently driven, meaning that they can rotate independently from each other, allowing the robot to be driven and spun in any direction, said senior Owen McNary-Sprague, Pigmice captain.


The team named their robot Chimera, a creature in Greek mythology composed of many different animal parts, because the arm resembles a cobra and the climbers look like wings. The intake could also look like many different animals, representing the complex form a Chimera can be. 


Pigmice participated in a total of two events this year. The Week 1 event at Clackamas was bittersweet, consisting of four wins and 10 loses, or as Pigmice likes to call them, “learning opportunities.” After the qualification matches, Pigmice was chosen to be in the 8th seed alliance in the playoffs with two other teams. Together they faced a field of powerful robots and dealt with challenges of dead ones, and were eventually eliminated after two matches. But Pigmice ended the day winning the Imagery Award for their consistency of application of branding standards, robot attractiveness and team appearance.


“We had a lot of mechanical issues in our first competition, but we were able to recognize those and be able to work through those really quickly in the pits before each of our matches, which generally had really quick turnarounds of like 20 to 30 minutes or less. So I was very proud of how our pit crew was able to see those problems and be able to think of outside the box solutions to fix them,” said junior captain Owen Woods. 


During this event, Pigmice realized the flaws of the robot and had to quickly redesign as well as remake all the parts. It was challenging to coordinate between different departments within the team, but team members were able to work smoothly from the prototyping and design to manufacturing and finally programming. Their hard work got paid back at the second event. 


Week 4 at Wilsonville was a successful competition all around. In fact it was the best competition the Pigmice had since the recovery from the pandemic. After a speedy redesign and some material switches, Chimera was better prepared to weather the physical stresses of the game. The Pigmice drive team gave it their all during qualification matches, utilizing all components of the robot to score effectively and quickly climb the chain during the endgame. Pigmice were ranked 12th out of 36 after qualification matches and were captains of Alliance 8 in the playoffs. The second playoff round was originally thought to be a 2-point win for their opponent but a rematch was granted due to an arena fault causing notes to not be properly scored. In the exciting rematch, Pigmice took back the win, before ultimately being knocked out by Alliance 3 in Round 3. Pigmice finished the competition tied for fifth place and earned yet another Imagery Award for consistency and appearance.


Despite some regrets around the design and strategies, the captains are proud of gaining skills and knowledge back from COVID while also being a complete student-run team. 


“I’m really proud about how, in my time here, I’ve been able to see the team come back from COVID, and go from building a robot that hardly functioned at all in our first competition back from COVID to the robot that we just built this year, which did super well and completed all the things you wanted it to do, ” said McNary-Sprague.


Though the season had its highs and lows, the Pigmice endured the challenges that came their way with spirit and gracious professionalism, but most important, a win against their beloved friends FRC 3636, the Generals from Grant High School in that playoff rematch.

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